MATESB4DATES Collective

ARTISTS: MJ Roshini James, Harmeet Rehal, Jasmine Noseworthy Persaud, and Harris I. Qureshi

How can a digital multimedia arts zine centering disabled 2SQTBIPoC submissions disrupt hegemonic models of intimacy (e.g. pleasure, rest, sex, etc.)? How can this medium respond to the limits of traditional sexual health education resources / curriculum (in so-called Canada)? How can community-based knowledge offer spaciousness and depth to what is defined as intimate?

two dark brown hands holding each other at the wristThe MatesB4Dates Collective is a group of artists from the Greater Toronto Area (Tkaronto) in what is known as so called Canada. Our members include MJ Roshini James, Harmeet Rehal, Jasmine Noseworthy Persaud, and Harris I. Qureshi. Our collective members have different histories with one another; some have been cultivated more recently than others. We go beyond just being peers in the same arts sectors and understand our connections as community, kin, and chosen family. Jasmine proposed we all work together on this project. They recognized that our skill sets – as multidisciplinary artists, cultural workers, and educators, paired with our collective commitments to dreaming and world-building better futures through a shared curiosity, embodiment, and solidarity – created an ideal group dynamic for this project. Our collective values around radical care informed by disability, neurodivergence, survivorship, and arts-based healing have made working and coming together happen with ease. Working in relation to one another also feels so natural because of our shared commitment to mobilizing grassroots, trauma-informed resources that are both comprehensive and in-service of our communities.

Harmeet’s Collage titled “delightful mess” - speaks to the crip, mad and spoonie rituals we engaged with in our meetings, voice notes, texts and emails. The process of creating it was also about honouring the complexity of this work and visualising the labour, care and intentions of showing up for each other and alongside each other in crip, messy and magic ways.
Harmeet’s Collage titled “delightful mess” speaks to the crip, mad and spoonie rituals we engaged with in our meetings, voice notes, texts and emails. The process of creating it was also about honouring the complexity of this work and visualising the labour, care and intentions of showing up for each other and alongside each other in crip, messy and magic ways.

As fellows, our collective came together to develop an arts zine centring disabled intimacy. Given that the Cyber Fellows residency was the MatesB4Dates first collective endeavour and YTB’s inaugural cohort, there was an opportunity for foundational learning and building. As researchers aiming to explore disability and intimacy, our collective spent time over the program exploring, ideating, and discussing: What does accessibility look like for ourselves as team members building together? What does accessibility look like for ourselves as participants in this program? How can we conduct our research in a way that increases the likelihood of participation from the most marginalized of our communities?  

With these guiding points in mind, we’ve prepared this resource document with sections capturing and reflecting on our findings. We hope to raise questions and/or plants seeds for others; as researchers, participants, artists, and community members. This document also hopes to provide a foundation for our collective as we prepare to seek further funding for our project.